Arrow returned from a long break of some six weeks or thereabouts three weeks ago and just while things were building up the momentum once again, it is taking a two-week break for the next two weeks. It will return on February 26th. But to help us tide over, this week’s episode packed a hell of a lot of awesome, just as the mid-season finale did with everything that went on with Barry Allen and Sebastian Blood and Roy Harper. I’ve said several times that I love the show despite its faults, because it does a ton of things right, and because it has improved a lot since its first season.
This week’s episode, titled Heir of the Demon, brings back Sara Lance aka Canary and it also introduces Katrina Law as Nyssa Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, the immortal leader of the League of Assassins, of which Canary is a part. The majority of the episode is focused on the relationship that Sara has with Ra’s, and it also gives us some interesting flashbacks to six years back before Ollie and his father went on that fateful trip on their yacht. This particular episode packed in a ton of emotional drama that I really liked, and for that alone, I loved it.
Note: This review contains some significant spoilers.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my fourth pick consists of some more DC leading ladies, the Birds of Prey from Gail Simone’s first run on the title, with art by Ed Benes. At the time the team consisted of Barbara Gordon aka Oracle and Dinah Lance aka Black Canary. Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress joined them with Gail Simone coming on to the title.
Hit the break to see why I picked this character.
Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.
I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.
One of the best things about Arrow throughout its entire run so far is that the show makes a clear and successful effort at identifying with the larger setting that it is a part of, the DC Universe that has developed over decades of comics and and movies and television shows and what not. This has been a strength of the show since the start and it has presented some really interesting reimaginings of several characters like the titular hero and his posse of allies and his rogues gallery, some of which have transitioned over from the Batman-side of things.
This week’s episode was another such installment, and it brought back one of the fairly important villains of the first season, the assassin called Deadshot who, in the show’s continuity, is a personal nemesis of Ollie’s friend Diggle since he killed Diggle’s brother. The entire subplot involving Diggle and his revenge was one of the most intriguing elements of the first season and in this episode, its all back in full as Diggle gets to make a really, really tough call. And we get to see the Arrow version of ARGUS’ director, Amanda Waller.
Note: Contains some minor spoilers about the show.
If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s recent Batman movie trilogy and you’ve been watching CW’s Arrow of late, AND you hear that the new episode this week is titled League of Assassins, then you are going to be hyped up as hell. I certainly was. Having enjoyed (for the most part, all the scenes with the League of Shadows in the movies, and having some knowledge of Ra’s al Ghul outside of the trilogy, this week’s episode was something I’d been really, really looking forward to.
There are lots of great things in this episode, the best being the storyline consistency in terms of how the episode progresses the larger season-length narrative, and how it continues to build up all the characters, especially Ollie & Co, the Canary, and the Lances. Some of the characters, like Roy Harper and Brother Blood and Isabel Rochev took a backseat this week, but I didn’t mind that at all since the other characters had all the bases covered.
Note: This review contains spoilers for the identity of the masked vigilante who may/may not be Black Canary.
The sign of a good show, especially in its early seasons, is that it needs to have a season-long arc. It needs to have a plot thread seeded throughout that particular season that progresses the overall story and moves the characters forward so that viewers are rewarded for sticking through with things. Additionally, the execution matters a lot, obviously. Do it with a heavy hand and the individual episodes come off the worse for it. Do it in bits and pieces, and you risk alienating viewers since each episode becomes a “situation of the week”.
This is where Arrow season 2 succeeds so well. We knew from the get go that there was going to be a major arc in this season, particularly since there were going to be a lot more heroes around in Starling this time and thus the stakes were going to be higher. The finale of season 1 contributed to that as well. So its really great to see that the “situation of the week” and the season-long arc are melded so well with each episode, and we are barely into the season!
Note: This review contains spoilers for the identity of the masked vigilante who may/may not be Black Canary.
Yesterday evening, I read an article on the geek news site The Mary Sue, which touched on an interview that ToonZone had with James Tucker recently (link to article). In this interview, he was asked by Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s recent comments that the studio really needs to get on with making a Wonder Woman movie because it is too big a thing to miss out on, essentially. Tucker is a supervising producer of the studio’s DC Animated division and as such, what he says should carry some weight in the discussion that has surrounded this topic of late: Wonder Woman getting her own live action movie, or at least the failed television show being given the go ahead.
I’ve been quite frustrated with all the non-news about the topic, particularly since DC and WB seem to be dragging their heels on the subject. What little comments that have filtered down to the masses, other than Tsujihara’s somewhat positive take, have all been about gender inequality and this notion that Wonder Woman can only work if she has THE perfect script going for her because she is, in a nutshell, too difficult a character to bring to the mainstream cinema audiences. Tucker’s comments fueled that fire further with his own brand of such silliness.
So, in a fit of frustration, I took to Twitter to talk about it and had a very interesting discussion with a few people about what is happening. This post is an offshoot of that entire discussion.
Once you have established yourself as a fan favourite and have proven your worth, so to speak, the only way to go is up, unless you massively screw it all up. Its happened to several shows over the years. The big crucible point for a TV show these days is to bring in a high number of viewers every week, to maintain that interest on a high level. Too many shows these days get cut in the early stages of their very first season because the executives don’t have much faith in the property beyond the dollar point. Thankfully, that’s not something that CW’s Arrow is going to be doing any time soon.
The first season was received with great acclaim, despite some fair criticisms from various places and the second season has been doing things bigger and better right from the start and we are only two episodes in. Or we were, until this Wednesday, when the third episode of the season was aired, proving that in Green Arrow & Co. CW has a really hit franchise on its hands and that the people working behind the show are people who know what they are doing and what they want to do. Because damn, Broken Dolls was the best episode of the entire show, to date.
After the intensely action-packed season 2 pilot, Arrow returned this week with what proved to be an excellent follow-up. The pilot introduced us, however briefly, to a lot of new characters and this episode began to trot them out one by one even as we still dealt with the consequences of the destruction of the Glades from season 1’s finale, even though a year has gone by in-universe. The show has always dealt with the humane consequences of the Vigilante’s actions really well and this episode was no different.
Where last season was all about establishing Green Arrow in his “Year Zero” phase within Starling City, this season appears to be going for a “Year One” vibe. We know who the major players in Starling City are by now, despite all the reversals from “last” year and we get to see the cast expanded to include some really interesting characters, even as some of the important not-so-major characters return for another whack at both Starling and the Vigilante.
After several months of intense anticipation and speculation, the new season of CW’s Arrow premiered this week on Wednesday to much fanfare. Despite the 10 season success of Smallville, Arrow still proved to be a surprise hit and for most of its first season it enjoyed some really high ratings, although that had begun to head downwards by the time the season finale rolled around. Not so bad really though since the show had already been confirmed for a season 2 and from all that I was seeing, the marketing was fairly intense.
One of the things that characterised the first season was that the show had a dark, edgy feel to it, quite apart from the rather sunny disposition that was the norm with Smallville. It helped set the new show apart, especially since there was a distinct lack of any comic-y villains. With the new season, that’s obviously changing, since we’ve heard that Flash and Black Canary are going to guest star significantly, so really, even while the show is maintaining its dominant feel, it is going to reach out to the other side and give fans something… light-hearted. I’m all for that.
I did two “Best of the…” lists last year, one for the half-year from January to June, and the other for the half-year from July to December. The lists proved to be quite popular, and I was recently asked if I was going to be doing any more. To which I said yes. I like putting together lists like this. It gives me a chance to reflect a bit on all the good stuff I’ve been reading in novels and comics, or listening to in terms of audiobooks, audio dramas and so on.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!